The Spineless Democratic majority

by Beacon Staff • January 31, 2007

A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that almost 70 percent of Americans are opposed to President Bush's proposed troop increase in Iraq.

Considering the American electorate also just voted Democrats back into power amidst promises of reform and a new direction for the country, it would seem logical that Congress would take steps to end our engagement in Iraq.,What's the point of the new Democratic majority if everything is going to stay the same?

A recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that almost 70 percent of Americans are opposed to President Bush's proposed troop increase in Iraq.

Considering the American electorate also just voted Democrats back into power amidst promises of reform and a new direction for the country, it would seem logical that Congress would take steps to end our engagement in Iraq.

At the very least, one would expect the new Congress to do everything in its power to thwart the president's plan. However, this is not the case.

Instead, Democratic Senators Joseph Biden and Carl Levin, as well as Republican Chuck Hagel, introduced a non-binding resolution to the Senate for members to vote on whether or not the troop increase is in the "national interest."

The resolution passed 12-9, with Hagel as the only Republican voting in favor.

Such a measure is nothing more than political grandstanding and a waste of time at a crucial crossroad. It does nothing to curtail the unprecedented power of the president, nor does it diminish our involvement in Iraq.

It is simply a measure of calculated political logistics, a move to place members of Congress on record about their support of or opposition to the president's proposal.

Proponents of the resolution claim that it will irrefutably show the president that his support has run out in Congress and that he must now heed their interests rather than continue to pursue his agenda.

The proponents hope to use this as a way to pressure the president to listen to members of Congress and to consider any alternatives they present.

Yet if our representatives should have learned anything from Bush's first six years in office, it is that he disregards any outside opinions that differ from his own.

He ignored popular opinion in the UN by going to war, has constantly bucked fellow republicans in Congress over issues from wiretapping to his desire to redefine the Geneva Convention, and, most recently, he ignored the findings of the Iraq Study Group Report.

He is already aware of his sagging support from Congress and the American people, and this measure will do nothing but tell him what he already knows.

His conviction to go it alone if necessary will not be swayed, as is evident by announcements that the administration already has the money to fund the troop increase and that troops will be deployed shortly.

He has even said as much, telling Bob Woodward he "will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney [his dog] are the only ones supporting me," according to the veteran journalist in an interview on "60 Minutes."

The only way Congress will change our course in Iraq is if Congress makes direct changes. Otherwise, the president will continue to conduct the war as he sees fit.

Equally perplexing about the situation is that Congress is abdicating a central role of the legislature to oversee the president's actions.

Executive oversight is not just a power, but a duty of Congress.

The non-binding resolution holds only the vaguest semblance of oversight, as it informs the president of his wrongdoing but does nothing to stop him.

It is the equivalent of a police officer telling a thief that he disagrees with the thief's actions, yet not arresting him.

In the end, the measure is no more than a way for politicians to bolster their r